Gen Z Share Their Thoughts on Youth Marketing, Social Media and the Impact of COVID-19

At Voxburner, Gen Z is at the heart of everything we do and we keep our finger on the pulse to ensure that you know what this important and passionate generation cares about and wants from you. Today, we hear from Candace, Laura and Harriet about  social media, COVID-19 and youth marketing. 

Tell us a bit about yourselves – who are you and what are your interests?

Harriet: Hey I’m Harriet, I’m 22 and recently graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Economics. I’ve recently moved to Manchester with my best friend and founded Hazaar, a marketplace for students to buy & sell between each other while they’re at uni! I enjoy going out with my friends, travelling, sport, festivals and anything adventurous really! 

Candace: My name is Candace. I’m a 24-year-old blogger (Candace Abroad), digital marketer and content creator. I moved to London from the US in 2016 and never looked back! I love creating content, exploring London and building communities (online and off). 

Laura: My name is Laura and I’m a 23-year-old working in Shoreditch at Blackbridge Communications as a Business Analyst and on the Board of Directors for Voice ESEA. I’ve been a long time lover of writing poetry, sport/ nutrition and reading. My hobbies are on rotation because of the books I read and I’m always trying new things. If you want to know what kind of things I’ve been trying lately, head to my website. What has stayed with me is a passion for diversity, equality and inclusion, Hygge in the winter and the belief that communication and teamwork can solve 99.99% of the issues in life (rough approximation based on 0 scientific evidence but ‘73.6% of all statistics are made up’ anyway so I just go with it). 

Candace, what made you want to start Candace Abroad?

Since 2017 I’ve been working with brands internally, creating content and helping them build communities online. In 2020 I decided it was time to take all that I learned and combine it with my love for London. And the rest is history! 

Harriet, how did you come up with the idea for Hazaar?

During my time at university I found myself & my friends always Amazon Priming sports night costumes, when actually the themes rotate around the different clubs, so what we needed another student already had & probably would never wear again. I realised this wasn’t just the case for costumes, but textbooks, household items, clothes and much more. We set Hazaar up on Facebook Marketplace to test it out, got 14,000 users in the first few months and realised there clearly was a demand for our idea! 

We recently launched nationwide in 6 cities but are actually scaling back to focus just on one city. In retrospect, we went nationwide a bit too early and still have a lot to learn so are focusing on nailing our app in Birmingham first before rolling out nationwide. 

Laura, what methods have you found to be most effective when trying to attract clients and talent?

For clients, the best way to attract them is still asking questions and getting to know people personally to find out what they actually want and to let them know they can trust you. The way I do this is through people I already know, and through going to events. I could recommend one platform, but trends change so fast that by the time anyone reads this the information could be outdated. So if you’re interested in getting into social media, I recommend having a team continuously looking at what platforms are best and what trends are relevant.

Candace, out of all the digital marketing campaigns you have worked on, which has been your favourite and why?

Definitely the campaign I did with the National Express last November. Post-COVID they were looking to increase brand awareness to their London demographic as things opened back up and essentially gave me free reign to conceptualise and create the content that I thought would best help them achieve that. I think as a creator it’s very empowering when a brand trusts that you know your audience best and encourages you to use your creativity rather than following a very strict brief. 

In the end, I decided to use my production budget for the campaign to travel to Cambridge and capture the story and experience of taking a UK day trip from London. The post went viral and I still receive questions to this day from that campaign. But I know it was because I followed what I knew would resonate best with my community and weaved the brands story into it seamlessly rather than plastering a ‘use the National Express!’ ad on my feed, which definitely wouldn’t convert well. 

What marketing efforts do you think are most effective towards yourselves and other Gen Z consumers?

Candace: I think Gen-Z consumers appreciate marketing efforts that come off authentic more than anything, and it’s very easy to spot when a brand or creator is not. Marketing efforts need to do more than say ‘buy our product, it’s great! now, they need to tell a story that directly relates to the experience of the Gen-Z they’re marketing to. 

Laura: Authentic ones that have enough promotion behind them to make sure we actually see it. It’s a broad answer, but it works for me. If you’re not sure if something is authentic, ask yourself what the campaign would look like if the person you were trying to convince was your best friend.  

Harriet: Showing behind the scenes of the business. For example, feeling like you really know the founder of a brand you love. Hazaar is made for students, by students, so we really try to use that to our advantage by resonating with and relating to our users. We work closely with the sports teams and societies and hold events for students such as vintage popups, launch parties and much more. 

What impact has the pandemic had on your usage of social media? Do you find yourself using it more or less frequently?

Candace: The pandemic definitely increased my usage of social media. But I think more from a creation perspective. With more time on my hands I was able to find inspiration, shoot and edit a lot more content than normal on and for social media, which in turn increased my social media time quite a bit. 

Laura: Sometimes it gives me anxiety, so I post more than I look because I compare myself too much and feel bad if I look too long. It’s easy to be happy for people you know who are doing well, but it’s even easier to feel inadequate when I see strangers doing things I’m not. If I stay off social media I can focus better on my goals instead of someone else’s. During the pandemic I started using Instagram as a video diary – it helped a lot when I felt lonely. I also started accounts for my hobbies like poetry. My accounts are like scrapbooks to me and they’re always nice to look back on.

Harriet: During the pandemic, we struggled for content. Our content that gets the most engagement is of students and photos from events we’re doing, so we struggled to keep our content engaging during the pandemic. 

And for the questions we ask everyone… 

Do you have a favourite app at the moment?

Candace: Still Instagram! I love all the opportunities it gives you to connect with your audience 

Laura: Yes! The Vacherin app at my office brings food right to my desk! I also love Classpass which lets you try out different workout classes for reduced rates (I took up boxing which I’ve been loving!). I’m a long term fan of Outlook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. 

Harriet: Tiktok (oh no) – I was weirdly late to the party so have only been obsessed with it for the last month or so! 

What are you most looking forward to at YMS LDN?

Candace: Getting to network with all the brands trying to connect with my demographic today — I think we could both learn a lot from each other! 

Harriet: I’ve never been to an event like it before so I’m super excited to be there for a couple of days with my team. I’m excited to hear from hugely inspiring people and learn lots of new things!

Laura: Learning new things and bringing them back to my company. We’re employee-owned and we all benefit from information being shared. Last year I was an attendee at YMS, and the insights we gained from the conference informed a lot of research and creative ideas for the rest of the year!

Thank you to all of our brilliant Gen Zers. 

Ahead of YMS22 LDN, we’re chatting to some of the youth marketing experts who’ll be taking to the stage and sharing their passions and experiences. This discussion was a part of this series, and you can catch Laura, Harriet and Candace at YMS this year.

Hear more from our Gen Z panellists alongside speakers from Pizza Pilgrims, The 93 Percent Foundation, Twitch and more. Click here for more details and to secure your passes to this unmissable industry event.

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